Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Yes, it’s hindsight, but still

Posted in Commuter, Customer service, Great Britain, Infrastructure, Metro by Chairman Pip on 17 December 2009

I’ll come right out and ask. What’s the point of London Overground? I don’t mean in terms of the operation. I think it’s a very good idea to have railway stations operating to the same degree as tube stations, that are staffed from opening to closing, and with improved levels of service and more trains per hour. No, my question is aimed at the idea of a railway network in London that doesn’t terminate in London. London Overground has no terminus in Zone 1, so anyone that uses it has to change somewhere onto something else. Meh. That would nark me off something chronic. How different could it have been had British Rail had a degree of foresight. Of course, we can’t blame them solely – after all, in the early to mid 1980s, passenger numbers were still low, and presumably no one thought that they would rise to the levels they are at now. Even so, it was an act of pure folly to get rid of nine platforms in the heart of the City at a stroke, and not replace them. I speak of Broad Street station. There is a heavy degree of irony here, which can be compared to that of what I said about grandeur. At around the same time in the 1960s, Euston station was demolished while St Pancras was saved. Similarly, in the 1980s, while Marylebone was experiencing a rennaissance to provide relief for the overstretch at Paddington, Broad Street was being demolished and some of its services shunted next door into the ever increasingly overcrowded Liverpool Street, while the remainder were looping over the top of London from Richmond to North Woolwich. It occurs to me that, even if it wasn’t at the same scope as before, something could have been done to preserve rail services into the City from the North London Line – perhaps as part of the deal that saw Broad Street station replaced by the Broadgate development, British Rail could have made the developer build an underground terminus. Indeed, the fact is that the Liverpool Street Crossrail station will be built under Broadgate, using the old Underground entrance that connected Broad Street with Liverpool Street tube station. Of course, it’s now 25 years since the demolition of Broad Street, so a generation of city workers from north-east and north-west London have had to find a way from the North London Line to the City without a direct rail link. One wonders what they would think if such a link did exist for London Overground to use.


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